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Data use in medicine becomes focus of conference

Paul Newman Archive
Keeping information organized and data quality high is vital, no matter the field. It is doubly important in the healthcare sector, as lives could be on the line. Experts have convened on this subject recently, attempting to find the best way to master this subject. As records move into the digital space, there is room to change the way physicians and researchers think about information management. The techniques perfected in other industries could resolve issues in medicine.

Conference convenes
A recent meeting of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) contained a heavy focus on information storage and management. The organization has launched a program to help physicians track their performance through data. This information can be used to notify doctors of what is working and what is not. New sources of insight are making processes like these possible, with surgeons now able to use patient information directly instead of sourcing their data from insurance organizations. Of course, any flaws in these resources could damage the effectiveness of such a project.

Information on hospital outcomes could soon be shared publicly on a wide basis. With this data about to become public property, it is a vital time for doctors to think about how to use it to boost their own performance on an internal basis. The conference also contained some discussion on this shift and the general progression toward better patient health through accurate reporting.

"The New York medical community has pioneered public reporting and the use of meaningful data to improve outcomes," said Fabrizio Michelassi, MD, surgeon in chief at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital "We, perhaps better than anyone, know the benefits and challenges of public reporting and this forum is an important vehicle to continue those discussions and demonstrate how outcomes-based programs like ACS NSQIP are driving effective quality improvement here in New York and across the country."

Others consider making data public
According to Becker's Hospital Review, Better Health Greater Cleveland, an organization based on promoting public care and outcome data, has recently expanded to include hospitals. This system, much like the one in New York that could soon help surgeons, gathers its information from health records directly. The source noted that the project can help doctors determine best practices.

Of course, the increased focus on mining data from health records means that hospitals need to ensure it is of high integrity and presented well. Releasing poorly maintained information to the public could send a poor message and using it internally could be a risk for care quality.